Autocracy studies


Team: Prof. Dr. Marianne Kneuer, Greta Jasser

In recent years scholarly attention for regime change towards non-democratic variants has increased. The flattening of the Third Wave of Democratization which could be observed since the mid 2000s inspired not only the generating of new typologies in the ‘grey zone’ between democracy and autocracy, but also raised concerns about a democratic recession. While regime change had been connoted with the transformation from autocracy to democracy since the 1970s and especially since the 1990s, recently the transition towards autocracy is dominant. Autocratization however is not only a phenomenon that concerns unconsolidated democracies and hybrid regimes, but also refers to established democracies and G20 countries like the USA, India or Brazil and even to members of the European Union, like Hungary and Poland. What are the mechanisms and logics of action? Who are the change agents? What are structural factors that facilitate autocratization? What role do social movements play? And what is the role of social media? How do autocratization and populism relate?


Latest publications

Kneuer, Marianne (2021): Unravelling democratic erosion: who drives the slow death of democracy, and how? In: Democratization, 28 (4) (open acces)

Kneuer, Marianne (2021): Exporting the Chavista Model: The Venezuelan Case for Autocracy Promotion in the Region. In: Bulletin of Latin American Research, Journal of the Society for Latin American Studies. Volume 40. (open access)

Gloria de la Fuente, Marianne Kneuer, Leonardo Morlino (eds.): Calidad de democracia en América Latina. Una nueva mirada, Fondo de cultura económica 2020. Link

Kneuer, Marianne; Demmelhuber, Thomas (2020): Authoritarian Gravity Centers. A Cross-Regional Study of Authoritarian Promotion and Diffusion, Routledge Link

Kneuer, Marianne, Thomas Demmelhuber, Raphael Peresson and Tobias Zumbrägel, "Playing the regional card: how authoritarian gravity centres exploit regional organizations". Zusammen mit, in: Third World Quaterly 3/2019: 451-470 (Online first, 4.6.2018), DOI: 10.1080/01436597.2018.1474713.

Kneuer, Marianne, “The tandem of populism and Euroscepticism: a comparative perspective in the light of the European crises, in: Contemporary Social Science. 14-1/2019: 26-42 (Online first, Januar 2018), DOI: 10.1080/21582041.2018.1426874


Current projects

Mapping out the Alt-Right – Far-Right and Misogynist Online Networks (Greta Jasser)

Autocratic and authoritarian parties and movements experience a surge and increased media attention in recent years. The movements are often radical or extremist and have a considerable online component when it comes to organisation and agitation. The US-American Alt-Right stands as the posterchild (and blanket term) for these movements. They seem tech-savvy, are known for their use of memes and irony, and converse and organise online. They also oppose liberal as well as Conservative values, equality and feminism and often adhere to conspiratorial thinking. This PhD project analyses the online networks of the anglophone far-right, their ideological congruence with the misogynist manosphere, and the spaces the movement built for itself, known as Alt-Tech – social media platforms in which extrem(ist) content goes unmoderated, and where right-wing political identities are constructed and enforced.


Terminated projects

2015-2018: Authoritarian Gravity Centers. A Cross-Regional Study of Authoritarian Promotion and Diffusion (funded by the German Research Fund – DFG) (Marianne Kneuer)